Just as South Africa prepares to ramp up preparations for the 2010 World Cup, Israeli companies are planning to take advantage of the opportunity that awaits in the form of multi-million dollar tenders that will soon go on offer to prepare the country ready for the premier event.
"The World Cup is a massive infrastructure event and we see a window of opportunity opening for Israeli companies and entrepreneurs to take part in the development and preparation of projects for the tournament," Steven Slom, chairman of the Israel South Africa Chamber of Commerce told The Jerusalem Post this week.
The types of tenders expected to be presented include in the construction, homeland security, environmental, ticketing, logistics, crowd control, tourism, transportation and communications areas.
Slom said he expects to receive a more clearly defined list of projects by the end of next week, and that the tender process would start around the beginning of 2007.
"Israeli companies need to get in early to learn about the opportunities that are being presented," he said.
For this reason, the chamber of commerce is arranging a delegation of companies and business people interested in bidding for the projects up for grabs. The delegation is scheduled to leave for South Africa on November 19.
Slom said the chamber is aiming to attract a minimum of 15 companies for the visit and that a large number already had expressed interest in joining.
He met Wednesday with officials from the South African department of trade and industry Middle Eastern and North African desk currently in Israel for talks with their Israeli counterparts. Slom said he received its support in helping Israeli companies bid in the tenders.
Meanwhile, South Africa's preparations for the World Cup have been plagued by concerns over delays and reports that the event may be moved to another location if the country fell further behind schedule.
Easing the concerns, the South African government announced plans to spend 15 billion rand on new stadiums and related infrastructure for the event.
The country's Finance Minister Trevor Manuel told parliament Wednesday that preparations for the tournament were one of the country's top spending priorities for the next three years.
The government is also spending billions of rand on its transportation system, including upgrades to its airports and railway network, as well as boosting its security personnel as part of the 2010 program.
The budget announcement coincided with a two-day seminar organized by FIFA for government and business representatives and a spokesperson for the organization reportedly reaffirmed FIFA chief Sepp Blatter's backing for the World Cup in South Africa saying he believes the preparations are on schedule.
Whether or not the country will stage Africa's biggest ever event, the opportunity nevertheless beckons for Israeli companies wanting a piece of the action as the tenders will be coordinated by the FIFA 2010 local organizing committee.
"We hope to encourage Israeli businesses and companies to take part in the preparations and urge those who are interested to join the delegation," Slom said.